Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ademola Adeeko : Surulere, Lagos—Welcome To The Wild, Wild West

About two weeks ago after winding down from work, I decided to stop at a friend’s place of work before retiring home finally for the day. Not long after I was settled there, I decided to do a couple of beers. Halfway through the first bottle, a group of five young men walked past where I was seated. I wouldn’t have noticed anything special about them if not for the fact that their walking formula was very well calculated; one of them walked ahead while the remaining four walked closely behind.
It could have passed for a scene straight out of a badly scripted Nollywood Movie.
Although, they walked fast enough for me not to see the straight and stern look on their faces, I noticed they all wore a frown. Well, I knew something was amiss but I just couldn’t place a finger on it. After pondering on what their mission could have been, I decided to let go. So, I just waived them off as l resumed my beer-drinking. I spent approximately an hour at my friend’s before finally setting for home. By then, it was getting dark so I just did a brisk walk home.
On getting to the street before my own street, I noticed the whole place was unusually quiet. Knowing Surulere to be a busy location especially at night, I knew something was absolutely wrong. A further walk down the street revealed my worst fear; 2 young men have been shot dead!
After about ten minutes of trying to find out the who, why and how of the scenario, it dawned on me that the five young men who walked past me about an hour ago apparently were the assailants! Two young men killed just like that!!
This, and so many more are the weekly series of cult-rivalry attacks that have taken over the once-upon-a-time peaceful streets of Surulere. From a serene and lovable atmosphere of peace and tranquillity to the regular air-renting-gunshots and axe-hacking volatile nature, Surulere has slowly and gradually metamorphosed into the Wild Wild West. Who ever thought someday, we’ll have to live in constant fear of gun-wielding thugs who label themselves fraternal brothers? Is this the ideal of their fraternity? (If at all they have one). Going back through memory lane, I sure read stuffs about Campus Fraternity and such but never did any of their ideals contain the use of force, violence as a weapon of intimidation or rivalry. It’s high time the pioneers of this particular societal blemish stood up to some responsibilities in order to squash this growing trend amongst our youths.
As much knowledge as I have about this scourge, I know the National Association of Seadogs aka The Pyrate Confraternity headed by Professor Wole Soyinka pulled out of campus fellowship a long time ago because of the societal stigma and irresponsibility associated with being a fraternity member. But really, that decision has not solved 1 percent of the problem we have found ourselves in today. Infact, it has only helped in placing more power and control into the waiting arms of irresponsible men. “You do not hand over the reins of power to an irresponsible fellow simply because he is irresponsible and you don’t want to associate with his irresponsibility. Instead, you deal with the irresponsible fellow immediately.” The NAS should have taken proper control of the campus fraternity but instead they pulled out of campuses which was like inversely handing over more power to the blood-thirsty idiots. I believe more has to be done to eliminate this foolish and unwanted rivalry between cult gangs. These thugs cannot continue to destroy lives and property all in the name of some stupid rivalry which most of them do not even know the genesis of.
The earlier we addressed this issue, the better for us all. We have shied away from this problem for too long that it now seems endemic. Somebody needs to put a halt to this utter madness and that’s is where the government is culpable. The more this is allowed to go on, the more difficult it will be to address. I can remember vividly, the year 2007 witnessed the total breakdown point of the system with the influx of weapons into Lagos state ahead of the gubernatorial elections. Both the PDP and the ACN are culpable in this crime. In order to intimidate opponents, they both kitted their thugs with brand new sophisticated weapons. Most of this young men were well funded with both weapons and cash by both parties as they took the rivalry to the streets. Soon after the elections was over, most of the boys went back home with their “new toys” and continued to terrorise Lagosians.
Fully equipped with sophisticated weapons, the underlying and misunderstood rivalry which of course had been running in the background for a very long time was revisited and then BOOM, the war began again. Only that this time around, heavy equipment were involved. From Ikorodu to Lagos Island, from Ojo to Surulere especially “Shitta Area”, the war raged on with young men looking out for members of rival cult gangs to hack down, given the slightest opportunity. It has gotten so bad now, that innocent ones are being caught in the middle of the crossfire. As a matter of fact, there are some parts of Surulere I dare not step into because of where I live. Meanwhile the police is standing by, allowing this massacre to continue because Tinubu’s boys are involved.
It’s quite disheartening how rotten the system has gotten that it has perpetually warped the reasoning of our youths. Don’t be surprised that most of the gun-wielding young men don’t even know why they are fighting. Once they are initiated and handed a gun, every other person is a potential enemy. Most of these potential killers roam the streets hiding guns under their shirts freely and are very well known yet no arrests have been made. Some of them publicly boast of being freed from detention once they are allowed to place a call through to a politician or government official.
Apart from direct involvement of the government in this problem, the issue of unemployment is also a contributing factor. But which ever way you choose to look at it, the involvement of this young men in this life of crime is a choice they have chosen which should never be tolerated by both the government and the society. The temporary solutions to political party rivalry in 2007 is turning out to be an endemic terror in 2013. I hope we learn soon.
The writer, Abayomi Ademola Adeeko, is on Twitter as @OccupyNaija

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